The JP Meisner Foundation is dedicated to helping serve, empower and heal through the arts the most deserving group in the United States - Veterans and their families – free of charge. To say they've paid the ultimate sacrifice and deserve every chance for a better life is an understatement. 

A Career in the Arts for Veterans & Their Families

The JP Meisner Foundation is dedicated to the above stated goal through helping veterans and their families find their voices as storytellers – whether as actors, writers, filmmakers, producers, and/or spokespeople. We believe that providing this high level of training will not only heal and integrate veterans and their families back into society, but through their stories they’ll help other vets and family members heal as well.

A Career in the Arts For Veterans and Their Families is an innovative veteran program that will continue to examine how the arts can contribute to other efforts to support veterans in successful reintegration into daily life.

A Career in the Arts for Veterans and Their Families will provide access for veterans to world class acting training while providing a structure to assist their personal development, artistic education, and improved quality of life. In addition, the program will be evaluated to determine the impact it has on other areas of participant’s lives such as career, family life, etc

Veterans are the light at the tip of the candle, illuminating the way for the whole nation. If veterans can achieve awareness, transformation, understanding, and peace, they can share with the rest of society the realities of war. And they can teach us how to make peace with ourselves and each other, so we never have to use violence to resolve conflicts again
-Thich Nhat Hahn

Acting Training

We offer world-class acting training while providing a structure to assist personal development, artistic education and improved quality of life. The program will be evaluated to determine its impact on other areas of participants’ lives such as career, family life, etc.

  • Acting Training For Veterans and Their Families will operate in the same structure as Meisner’s two-year training and will be funded by local foundations, corporations, businesses, and personal donations.
  • All potential students must first meet with Jim Jarrett for a personal interview for acceptance. Due to the deeply personal and intense nature of the training, veterans suffering from PTSD will also be pre-interviewed and screened through partnerships with veteran service agencies.
  • Jim Jarrett Founder/Director, Melissa Thompson Esaia, Assistant Director or other Meisner-Trained professional teachers who have at least five years of teaching experience at The Meisner Technique Studio will teach all classes.
  • Classes will meet twice a week (three hours per class) at the Meisner Technique Studio at The Presidio, 39 Mesa Street, Studio A, San Francisco, CA 94129
  • The complete 2-year Meisner Technique is taught in six three-month sessions.
  • After each three-month session, all students must be invited to return.
  • Each class will have no more than 16 students per class.
  • Adult classes: at least 18 years of age.
  • Teen classes: ages 14-17
  • The classes are open to any honorably discharged military personnel and their families.

The Business Of Being An Actor

Every hour of every day, planes are landing at LAX from all over the world full of people beginning their dreams of becoming working actors in Hollywood. While those planes are landing, just as many are taking off, packed full of people who’ve been crushed by that very same dream … that’s because most actors - most artists - are not comfortable and skilled at ‘the business of their dream.’ In fact, there is nothing more common in Hollywood than incredibly talented, out-of-work actors. The Business Of Being An Actor is a one year intensive training program dedicated to helping change that

The Business of Being An Actor is for anyone who is serious about having a career - on his or her terms – as a working actor. At the end of the yearlong session, students will possess the skills and confidence to compete professionally with the best actors in this country for any role in any medium.

Taught in three segments:

The Business of the Business

This first section deals with the marketing of a career as an actor, whether a student lives in major markets like Los Angeles or New York, or if they choose to live in a market like San Francisco, which will require an even more creative, aggressive approach to building a career. Below are some of the main topics covered in this session:

  • The Game of Hollywood and the Hollywood Food Chain
  • Finding the right agent, then building that relationship
  • When to hire a manager
  • The facts about Pilot Season
  • How to have a career outside of Hollywood
  • How to take an incredible headshot

The Art Of Auditioning

It doesn’t matter how strong an actor’s training is or how talented they are – if they can’t audition brilliantly, their career swill only go so far. This session will teach students how to audition for commercials, television and film, and theatre and blow people away. This will be accomplished over several weeks of videotaping every session of work while teaching a cold-reading/audition technique that can literally change careers. During this segment, students will also be taught how to take a meeting with a strong theatrical and/or commercial agent, so they can secure quality representation as well as “generals” with casting directors, producers, and agents.

Acting For Film, Television, and Theater

Working in front of a camera requires a completely different set of acting and technical skills from working on stage. This last session will give students the skill-set, and just as importantly, the confidence to work technically in any medium. Every time a student works, he/she will be shot on HD Cameras, so the feedback on the work is immediate and extensive.

Jim Jarrett, who has been making a living as an actor for over a quarter century, teaches the Business Of Being An Actor. Jarrett’s smash-hit show, Vincent, entering its 18th season, is considered one of the most successful and respected touring one-man shows in the world. Over a quarter million people have experienced at the premier performing art centers, museums, and universities what the New York Times called, “A truly beautiful theatrical experience.” In 2000, The Philadelphia Museum of Art invited Jarrett to perform Vincent while presenting the Van Gogh “Faces” exhibit from Amsterdam. From this exposure, The International Theater Festival selected Vincent as the only representative from the United States to participate. Vincent was also chosen “Best of the Festival,” closing the month-long event in Manila in front of an SRO crowd of over two thousand people. In 2008, Vincent and Jarrett were the smash hit of the largest international theater extravaganza in the world - The Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland. Competing against 3000 shows per day, Jarrett’s production played to sold-out audiences for the entire month. Jarrett was also nominated “Best Actor” and the prestigious STAGE AWARDS chose Vincent “Best Solo Show.”

Directing Actors From The Audition To Final Cut

Jim Jarrett explains the goal and vision for the class – “One of the most common things I hear and see are very talented directors who are wonderful technically but can’t get the performance they want and need. Directors are so skilled at lighting the shot, framing the shot but the weakest part of their talent and training is their ability to direct their actors. This class is for any director who wants to change that.” This three-month session will cover a myriad of topics – below are just a few of those:

  • How to attract quality actors with little or no budget
  • The casting process- what's it like for us and the ideal way to run that process - sides/scripts etc…
  • Auditioning & callbacks - what to look for and what to watch out for
  • Working with actors with different, little, or no training
  • What an actor needs from his or her director while shooting
  • What an actor needs/wants from his or her director on the set
  • How to direct/get the desired performance
  • What to do when actors aren’t giving the desired performance
  • Creating the best environment for an actor’s performance
  • The best things to say to an actor after a take
  • Improvising the scene when the performance isn’t working
  • Every class will finish with a Q&A, so specific questions will be answered as well.

Why We’re Afraid To Speak In Public & How To Transcend It

The #1 fear for most people is getting up in front of other people to speak. The price we all pay for this is enormous because incredibly talented people with something to say will never be heard. This can be solved and can provide a “voice” for so many people out there who are paralyzed by fear and hence, silenced. For years, Jim Jarrett has been coaching anyone who has to get up in front of other people to speak - from lawyers to politicians to salespeople and teachers at PTA meetings.

The first task is to help students transcend their fears. The two biggest for most people are the fear of judgment of others and the fear of making a mistake. Jarrett says, “Welcome to an actor’s life. We have to walk into a strange room where people really are judging us, and of course, we will make mistakes. After years of doing this professionally and teaching from it, we have created an incredibly empowering program that can help anyone get up in front of any group and not just “survive it” but thrive in it. And here’s the most incredible aspect of the training – they will learn to enjoy it.”

    Our Goals

  • To support the reintegration of Bay Area veterans into mainstream civilian life by providing world-class training in the performing arts.
  • To provide this training to veterans, their families, and their caregivers
  • To provide hope, new workforce skills, job opportunities, and placement.
  • To provide a healthy, safe, empowering outlet and voice for veterans’ pain, frustrations, fears, and depression through acting, writing, and filmmaking
  • Long term sustainability and annual support to ensure excellent, free, arts-based care for the veteran community in perpetuity.

The Need - Veterans Support

For so many veterans who have experienced the reality of war, they need transformation. The numbers are staggering:

  • According to USA Today, 48,000 Afghanistan and Iraq veterans have sought treatment for PTSD
  • Nearly 1 in 4 combat veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan will suffer from PTSD
  • For these veterans, suicide rate is almost twice the national average
  • 2 out of 3 of their marriages are failing according to Military Ministry
  • Less than 40% of veterans with PTSD will seek help
  • Approximately 33% of homeless males in the U.S. are veterans
  • On any given night, more than 300,000 veterans are living on the streets or in shelters in the U.S
  • About 70% of homeless veterans suffer from substance abuse problems. 45% of homeless veterans suffer from mental illness including PTSD
  • Between 529,000 and 840,000 veterans are homeless at some time during the year


CBS News did an investigation, and what it revealed was stunning. Of the more than 30,000 suicides each year in America, veterans commit about 20%. In 2005, for example, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That's 120 in each and every week, in just one year.

"Those are devastating," said Paul Sullivan, a former analyst who is now an advocate for veterans. “Those numbers clearly show an epidemic of mental health problems," he said. Sen. Murray said the numbers CBS News uncovered are significant: "These statistics tell me we've really failed people who served our country. If these numbers don't wake up this country, nothing will. Every one of us has a responsibility to the men and women who serve us that they aren't lost when they return home."


“One of the world’s greatest lies is, ‘people don’t change.’ And the truth is, most people don’t. To change behavior, to transform, you need to be consistent, disciplined, and most of all, you need personal integrity. Most people lack all three… but to be a student at our school, you must be solid in all three, or you won’t last. I believe the impact this will have on veterans’ recoveries would be nothing short of miraculous, but I must say, this training is not for everyone. That’s a good thing. It’s not some acting class or workshop. This is world-class training, and that comes at a price because these veterans will be held to the same standards to which I hold every student in my school – which means they must be accountable, professional, humble, respectful, consistent, dedicated, congruent, and passionate about their dreams to study with me. If they are, they will leave here with the foundations to their dreams in place. They will be empowered to share their voices and their stories with the world, not only through their acting, but through the films and plays they will see and direct.”